Author: Viktorija Dimitrova - Jovanova
Originally published on TV Iris
A company from Virgin Islands wants to build a foundry in Probistip and it will melt scrap metal and steel. The foundry will be built just two kilometers from the open tailings of lead and zinc mine Zletovo, where 11 million cubic meters of toxic cadmium, molybdenum, copper and gold are deposited. This has upset the residents of the town, who through the social networking site Facebook formed a group "No for steelworks in Probishtip" and started to collect signatures for a petition against construction of the foundry. They say that Probistip will not be the new Veles.
-As conscientious citizens we wonder how at a time when the region and the people of our country are fighting for the right to breathe clean air, drink potable water and have unpolluted soil, our Municipality decides on this disastrous step. We all know that in our municipality there are pollutants. Even in the time of former Yugoslavia Probistip was blacklisted as one of the most polluted towns. Probistip has chemical and radiological contamination of soil and water. Investigations have been made and the results are devastating. We must neither neglect the air pollution which is also present. Unfortunately such is the truth and the current state of pollution in the Municipality Probistip.
This is written by the people of Probistip after Probistip municipality on its internet site published a document entitled Notice in order to implement the project Steel Foundry and production of steel products in Probistip municipality. What is debatable for the citizens is that scrap steel will be melted in the capacity, its casting and production of steel products, although the document of intent states that "green technologies will be used". It is predicted to annually melt 100,000 tons of scrap iron and steel in two induction furnaces.
"Induction furnaces will be used versus conventional melting in electric and cupola furnaces". According to the document, application of induction furnaces for melting scrap steel involves creating smaller quantities and smaller waste. According to the statements of manufacturers, global practice and the relevant literature, melting of iron and steel in induction furnaces results in a low level of emissions in the air compared with cupola and electric furnaces. As coal or fuel is not burned in induction furnaces, the level of emissions solely depends on the purity and composition of the input raw material. The entire production process will be conducted in a closed working facility, and the processes themselves are processes of closed type which ensures control of the overall impact on the environment.
The facility will be built in the new industrial zone "Neokazi", intended for heavy industry, on an area of six hectares. The first houses are located 1.5 km airline from the foundry.
-In Probistip first there should be assessment for renovation of existing damage from pollution. Probistip government to require extensive testing for contamination of the region, chemical, radiological and air pollution, statistically to determine mortality and cause of death and age of course, and then to think of new pollution - citizens react. They fear that even radioactive iron could be found in the new foundry furnaces.
From Virgin Islands directly in Probishtip
Cranfield Foundry Ltd Skopje, company for production, trade and services, wants to build the new foundry. With a capital of 100,000 Euros the company was established in April 2014 or four months before the preparation of the document for construction of the foundry. A company registered in the off shore companies heaven, Virgin Islands, is the owner. The headquarters of the company Cranfield Business Group Limited is Trident Chambers street on whose post office box a number of other companies are registered. Probably headquarters of the law office working on company registration. It is interesting that the address of the foreign company Roand Town Tortola, is also in the current state of Metrudhem, the company that wanted to restart Veles Smelter. Veles ecologists failed to prove that Cedo Petrov and Zanko Chado from Probistip are behind Metrudhem. Petrov managed to win the lawsuit against a journalist for such assertion stated at a press conference.
The new company Cranfield Foundry which wants to build the foundry in Probishtip is managed by Sergey Kruchinin with address in the Russian Federation. Kruchinin is authorized as Manager - Administrative Manager. In the document a contact person is Darius Juba, Chief Operations Manager. When you search the Internet, you can find information that Kruchinin and Juba at the same time (2009-2010) are MA of Cranfield University - School of Management in the UK. On the network Linkedin, on his profile Juba for himself wrote that he is a specialist in strategic processes in multinational organizations. His current employer Sergey Kruchinin gives recommendation to Juba after he had helped him to identify a number of problems in his company. Before coming to Macedonia, Juba worked in Liechtenstein.
Sergey Kruchinin wrote about himself that he has specialized in marketing. He previously worked in the Russian company for delivery of products Ukonos as deputy head of marketing and regional manager for the administrative region Moscow.
Thus, what will a manager and a marketing specialist do in the foundry business? In the document of intention Juba put an email from cranfield-bg.com, however, when you search the site, it says it is an error.
Cranfield Company asked the Ministry of Environment for a decision and received it on 14th October 2014 for determining the need for assessment of the foundry’s environmental impact.
From the Ministry they explained that this means a green light for production of the study through which we will see the effects on human health and the environment by the foundry. This is a key document that some of the recognized experts from the list of the Ministry of Environment need to work on. Then the document will be made public in the media and the Ministry’s site, followed by a public debate. After the debate, all comments and remarks will be incorporated, after which the Ministry will decide whether to build the facility or not.
Nenad Kocic, front man of the Green Coalition in Veles warns that impact is possible on the one who will work on the study, that is not to fully take into account the actual parameters.
-Naively prepared environmental study for restarting the Veles Smelter commissioned by Metrudhem saved Veles from new pollution, said Kocic, who suspects that the same circle of people in Macedonia in different parts of the country are trying to install this capacity.
Municipality Probistip started providing basic conditions for the new technological zone in Neokazi. At the last session of the Council a decision was adopted on construction of water supply, sewerage and wastewater treatment plants.
Mayor Toni Tonevski confirmed that it had been negotiated with several interested investors, including one with the foundry. He denied that primary metals will be melted, but only casting some alloys, manufacturing parts for car industry from them.
"The investor has the most modern equipment and there is no pollution. There is such similar plant in the center of Brno, in the Czech Republic. I, as mayor, will be the first who will fight against pollution, that is I will be against it if I see that there is some possibility of further pollution in Probistip, because for me as mayor, and I believe for all citizens of the municipality Probistip, economic development is very important, to create new jobs, but most important of all is human health and environmental protection", said Tonevski.
According to him, so far only negotiations for location have been made and there is no official document to call upon so that they could accurately respond what exactly it is about.
The document of intention to build a foundry with correct location in the zone Neokazi is published on the website of the municipality Probistip, managed by Tonevski.
The mayor adds it is about a "very good facility which will employ 300 people".
We consulted professors at the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy in Skopje, who say that the construction of the foundry is not disputable, but only if it is built by all environmental standards. Pollution, according to them, will depend on what and how will be melted and the technology used.
And while a new capacity from heavy industry is about to be constructed, the old mine remains eighth environmental hot spot in Macedonia. The tailing is in the town itself and so far no solution has been found about the hazardous material it contains. Investors from China, the UK and Germany have been announced. Their profit is in the collection of metals from the tailing, which would then be processed. But today the tailing is a wide lake that in summer produces dust making the eyes of the people of Probistip hurt, and in winter it poisons their water.
Professor Sonja Lipitkova, who comes from Probistip, announced a tender to select an investor for the tailings. 500 acres of arable land cannot be planted because of flooding with dangerous substances from the tailings in the seventies of the last century. It is confirmed by the study of the Japanese JICA in 2006-7, made before construction of the hydro system Zletovica. "Agricultural products of over 500 hectares are considered high-risk", it is said in the JICA study.
(The story was is supported within the NED project “Raising Awareness about Corruption through Investigative Reporting”)